I recently read someone speaking about Job’s great statement of faith in Job 19:25 as not being related to the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I planned in no way to study it out or speak to it until I had come repeatedly in my present sermon text (Acts 10–11) noting that throughout there is a word that speaks of “resurrection” that means to rise or stand throughout. It is so very repetitive that it is impossible to avoid. Thus, as I was meditating over this theme, I arose this morning to think on it again.
The best commentary I have read on Job is by Christopher Ash in the Preaching the Word series by Crossway. I looked back over that, and find it suffice to explain this verse in a way that is truly edifying. So, here is an excerpt:
A Confident Hope—of Vindication by a Redeemer (vv. 25–27)
And yet. And yet. The longing for an eternal vindication (“forever”) needs more even than an inscription on rock (v. 24). The steady erosion of the elements renders even that impermanent. So Job now makes the wonderful jump from a yearning (“Oh, that . . .”) to a faith-filled hope (“I know . . .”)…
What does Job “know” (v. 25)? By faith he knows three wonderful truths: he has a living Redeemer, this Redeemer will stand upon the earth, and Job will see him with his own eyes.
First, he has a living Redeemer. The “Redeemer” ( go‘el ) was someone tied to you by covenant, usually a relative, whose calling was to stand for you when you were wronged (v. 25). If you were murdered, he saw to it that your murderer was punished; if your share in the promised land was under threat, he safeguarded it; if your widow was childless, he gave her a child. In every way he stood for you when you could not stand for yourself; he is your “Vindicator” (Pope, Fyall) and “Champion” (Clines). One of the most beautiful illustrations of this principle is in the book of Ruth, where Boaz acts as Naomi and Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer, caring for them in their widowhood and becoming for Ruth the husband she needs. Job is confident he has a Redeemer who “lives” (v. 25), meaning “lives forever” in contrast with the impermanence even of an inscription on stone.
This Redeemer can be none other than God himself, the living God who often in the Old Testament stands as the Redeemer of his people. Many modern commentators reject this conclusion because they “find intolerable the logic . . . that God will help Job against God.” But their alternatives—perhaps that Job’s “Redeemer” is his words, which he is confident will survive his death, or a sympathetic member of the heavenly council—are pathetically inadequate by comparison. This Redeemer must “live” in an absolute sense, and he must be able to stand for Job as an equal before God, who is Job’s accuser. No one less eternal than God or of lower status than God will suffice.
This is not logical, by the sort of logic that the religious or philosophical systems can manage, but it is ultimately true. It is one of the deep ways in which the book of Job, like the whole Old Testament, ultimately does not make sense without Christ and without God, who is the Trinity. The sufferings of Job are a type and foreshadowing of the sufferings of Christ, in whom God is for us. As Luther put it, with his wonderful grasp of gospel paradox, God “loved us even as he hated us.” It is not only that the believer is simul iustus et peccator (at the same time a justified man and a sinner); God is simul Iudex et Redemptor (at the same time Judge and Redeemer).
Second, Job knows by faith that this Redeemer will “at the last . . . stand upon the earth,” literally “upon the dust,” which may be a reference to Job’s grave (v. 25). “Better than a fading tombstone inscribed with my vindication, there will be an eternally living vindicator standing on my grave, attesting my genuineness and right relationship with God.” In this context the word “stand” refers to a witness standing in court to bear testimony.
Third, Job knows that in the end he will see this Redeemer-God with his own eyes (vv. 26, 27). Although there is some uncertainty in translation, it seems that Job expects this to happen after his death (“after my skin has been thus destroyed” [v. 26]). As he has longed, he will indeed be hidden in Sheol and then summoned in resurrection to meet his God (14:13–17). Far from death tearing off his “skin” and marching him off to “the king of terrors,” as Bildad has asserted (18:13, 14), Job will be escorted to meet his God face-to-face.
To stand before God carries with it the meaning of having right relationship with God finally recognized and being vindicated. At the end of Psalm 17 David cries out, “As for me, I shall be vindicated and will see your face” (Psalm 17:15a NIV). This anticipatory, faith-fueled confidence of Job anticipates his words “now my eye sees you” after God’s final speech (Job 42:5).
It is all very personal, from the emphatic “ I know” (v. 25) to the “whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (v. 27). Job’s faith makes this future reality so vivid that it is almost as if he is already experiencing this longed-for vision of God. “My heart faints within me!” (v. 27). “Heart” is literally “bowels” or “kidneys,” the seat of the emotions. We sometimes speak of having butterflies in our stomach; this was more like elephants. The deepest longing of Job’s heart is to stand before the God he loves and worships, and he believes that he will. He is a prophet, and the Spirit of Christ within him searches and inquires about what person and time is being indicated by these longings (1 Peter 1:10–12).
So Job says in effect, “I will not finally believe that the monster god is the God who made this world. I know that the God I have always feared and loved is related to me by covenant—I belong to him and his family and his people—and in the end, even if it is after my death, I will see him, and he will vindicate me so that it will be publicly seen that I have been a real believer with a clear conscience.”
This is an extraordinary insight of faith. Even though Job then goes back into further chapters of lament, Christians read these words and rightly say, “Job spoke more truly than he realized!” There is a sovereign Redeemer who lives and who will one day vindicate every believer and declare him or her justified from all sin. The true God is the Father who sent his Son into the world to be the innocent believer who dies for sinners; and the true God is the Son who so loved us that he gave himself for us. So indeed every believer can say, “God is for me in Christ; and no power or death or demon in the present or the future can separate me from his love in Christ” (cf. Romans 8:31–39).
How can we be sure of this? Because there was once a real believer whom the monster god attacked with all his vicious terrors, a blameless believer who experienced a terrible death he did not deserve and whom the Redeemer God vindicated publicly on the third day when he raised him from the dead.
George Frederick Handel’s librettist (Charles Jennens) was absolutely right when he set Job 19:25, 26 alongside the words “Now is Christ risen from the dead . . .” in that great aria in The Messiah . It is precisely the bodily resurrection of Christ that gives us the assurance that Job’s confidence was not wishful make-believe but sure and certain hope. The Father stood upon Christ’s tomb and acted as his Redeemer, to vindicate him by resurrection. This same God will stand upon the grave of every man or woman in Christ, to act as our Redeemer. And on the last day we will stand justified and vindicated before him by grace.~Christopher Ash, Commentary on Job in Preaching the Word series by Crossway
As I read over this wonderful explanation, (which I believe to be sound and wholesome for our souls), other texts in Acts came to mind, such as where Jesus was “standing” when Stephen was martyred. Does the believe have hope that God will take his stand on earth? Indeed. How can God take his stand on earth except that God take on feet to stand. In the incarnation, our Lord, God’s only Son, took on flesh—flesh that suffered like Job did. He became fully man, while remaining fully God. So, the Father sent the Son to defeat Sin, Satan, and death, and will thus vindicate all his children as was hoped by Job personally, at the right time. We cannot understand Job 19:25–27 without a doctrine of the Trinity; nor can we understand this text without Christ at the center of our hope.
Furthermore, I think that we can glean from this some practical application for our times. It seems that there is a push for Christians today to be taking “their stand” per se. And to some measure this is in keeping with Scripture. However, the emphasis in our dark times appears to be very human-centered. We are forgetting largely that it is God who takes his stand and gives us hope. We cannot vindicate ourselves, we await one who vindicates us according to his righteousness, for we have none of our own except he give it. We cannot await to look upon our own righteousness no matter how right we may think we are. We can only live our lives trusting in His. And as we do, (and all who do), we may have the same confidence Job had that was not in himself, but in His God, the living One. The world makes miserable comforters, but we have the living God to comfort us—as did Job.